Overcoming key challenges in drug naming

The global market for pharmaceutical products reached $1.2 trillion in 2018 – up $100 billion from the prior year. It is projected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2023.[1] By another measure, this translates into more than 40,000 Class 5 trademark applications submitted to Trademark Offices around the world in 2018, on top of 300,000+ already active records.[2]

This may be due to the many new developments in biotechnology, nanotechnology and digital medicine that are rapidly transforming the definition of pharma products and creating an ever-more crowded and complex brand landscape.

To be successful, pharmaceutical brand owners need specialized tools and solutions that they can trust. We have what it takes to help you successfully navigate the heightened standards, regulatory compliance, and dual approval timeline coordination that make the trademark process that much more challenging.

High-stakes naming

Due to the risks involved in pharmaceuticals, generating pharmaceutical trademark names takes special care and a tailored approach. Mixing up detergent brands at the supermarket is frustrating but getting the wrong drug from the pharmacy could prove fatal. Creating unique drug brand names requires avoiding similarity to existing pharma brands (both registered and common law), making it distinct but also easy to remember, and staying far away from symbols, medical abbreviations, or other linguistic conventions that may hinder correct prescription.

CompuMark’s key resource: Naming Tool on SERION®

Leverage artificial intelligence to both generate and analyze names within seconds, with trademark clearance in mind. CompuMark’s Naming Tool automates the process of brainstorming new names, simultaneously evaluating them for potential usability to help you find a unique name that resonates in the Pharma industry. Now, you can inform name creation with desirable word characteristics drawn from Class 5 marks, pharma-in-Use data, and pharma common law sources right out of the gate, giving you confidence in your pharma brand or product name possibilities.

Multi-layered clearance

Pharmaceutical trademarks must not only be approved by the Trademark Office, but also by a regulatory body such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada, or the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The two processes are entirely independent, but must be carefully managed in concert, adding considerable complexity. While Trademark Offices and regulatory agencies are both concerned with similarity, the former focuses on potential for confusion with existing marks, while the latter evaluates against medicinal products authorized, suspended, revoked, or withdrawn under their jurisdiction. Regardless of regulator, the process is long, with a high bar. In general, only about 50% of proposed brands are cleared.[3] Significant up-front research with the right tools is required to be successful.

CompuMark’s key resource: Pharma-specific common law and web sources

Why risk missing an unregistered mark that could inform a regulator’s decision? In addition to trademark data, our comprehensive Pharmaceutical Searches focus on industry specific common law and web sources, for more relevant results. We include RxNorm and Drugs@FDA as recommended by the FDA, as well as four additional sources unique to CompuMark: Micromedex, the National Drug Code Directory, FDB Med Knowledge, and new gTLDs. We’ve also added branded FDA clinical trial names from ClinicalTrials.gov, as well as EMA’s database of invented names used to designate medicinal products authorized, suspended, revoked, or withdrawn in the EU.

Safety at the point of prescription

Although they each have their own methods and standards, regulators also often pay careful attention to how the name sounds when verbalized by a physician over the phone to a pharmacist, and how it looks written out by hand on a prescription pad or typed on a computer. The FDA, Health Canada, and the EMA all to some extent rely on a technology known as phonetic and orthographic computer analysis (POCA) for evaluating these kinds of similarities against databases of existing drug names, assigning a score on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the score, the greater the phonographic or orthographic similarity – and the greater the risk of rejection. A bad POCA score can quickly eliminate a potential drug brand name, so knowing how your mark measures up before applying to a regulator is critical.

CompuMark’s key resource: FDA, Health Canada, and EMA-compliant POCA

CompuMark helps you improve your chances of drug name acceptance with regulators by offering POCA analysis using sources recommended by the FDA, Health Canada, and the EMA. Taking it a step further, CompuMark’s Match Score uses the authentic POCA algorithm to compare your mark to Class 5 trademarks outside of drug databases. Search or Watch citations from the POCA database are displayed with POCA scores, while Search or Watch citations from other sources are displayed with Match Scores, allowing you to make a direct and objective comparison between two marks, regardless of their source. POCA is automatically included in Global Pharmaceutical Searches as well as Pharma XC Searches.

For more information on strategies and tactics for overcoming pharmaceutical branding challenges, access the on-demand version of our recent webinar, “Use as Directed: Navigating the complexities of pharmaceutical trademarks”.


[1] Global pharma spending will hit $1.5 trillion in 2023, says IQVIA, Pharmaceutical Commerce, January 19, 2019

[2] CompuMark SAEGIS

[3] Use as Directed: Navigating the complexities of pharmaceutical trademarks. CompuMark.